It was the Blues first home and they made no mistake in ensuring the bonus-point with a hat-trick of tries from Ronan Kelleher along with further tries from Fergus McFadden, Joe Tomane, Max Deegan, Harry Byrne and Michael Milne sealing a comfortable win for the hosts.
Leinster registered the first points of the night from the boot of Ross Byrne, who knocked over a fourth minute penalty.
Byrne was at the centre of the hosts opening try as Leinster broke into the Ospreys 22-metre line and with a penalty advantage behind them, the fly-half sent a perfect cross-field kick over to McFadden who simply had to catch the ball and put the ball down over the whitewash. Byrne couldn’t add the kick from the touchline but it was 8-0 with 11 minutes gone.
Four minutes later and they were in for their second try as back-row Will Connors broke through the Ospreys’ defence before passing to Kelleher just before being tackled. From there Kelleher showed some incredible pace for a hooker to score his first try for the province. Byrne made no mistake from the tee and suddenly it was 15-0.
It took time but after some sustained Leinster pressure were over once again on 34 minutes as centre Tomane finished off a number of phases close to the opposition line by barging over the line. Byrne again added the extras to stretch the lead out to 22-0.
That’s how they went in at the half-time whistle with the boys in blue looking in full control heading into the second period.
Leinster started the second-half where they left off in the first, with the Ospreys having the ball five metres out from their own try-line Kelleher broke through a ruck, kicked the ball ahead and touched down for his second try of the game while also securing the bonus-point. Byrne hit the post with the difficult kick from the left, but it was 27-0 with four minutes gone in the second-half.
With half an hour remaining the hooker got in for his hat-trick as the Leinster pack drove forward from a maul off a line-out leaving Kelleher with the simple task of pushing the ball down over the line. Byrne was on target with the kick to give the hosts even more comfort on the scoreboard.
Another five minutes on and substitute Deegan, who was only on the pitch for three minutes, made a darting run from deep, receiving the ball just in front of the Ospreys line, where he was never going to be stopped and put the ball down for try number six for Leinster. Byrne converted with his final kick of the game as he was replaced by younger brother Harry.
Less than ten minutes after his introduction and Harry Byrne was in for his first try for Leinster in what was his home debut as he backed himself from close-range and wriggled through for the score. He failed to convert his own try but it was 46-0 with little over ten minutes remaining.
Six minutes on and fellow home debutant Milne scored his first try for Leinster as he barrelled over from close-range. This time Harry Byrne made no mistake from the tee to make it 53-0.
The Ospreys got a consolation score a minute later through Luke Morgan after they took a quick line-out inside the Leinster 22, the conversion was missed as they only walked away with the five-pointer.
Things only got worse for the away side as forward Gareth Evans was sin-binned for a shoulder tackle on McFadden, meaning they would have to play the final minutes with only 14-men.
Leinster failed to notch up any further scores but it finished 53-5 in favour of the home side as they went to the top of Conference A.
Leinster host Edinburgh next Friday when they will look to continue their winning start to the season, while the Ospreys will hope to bounce-back from this defeat when they welcome Benetton to Wales next Saturday.
Leinster Player Ratings
Hugo Keenan (7), Fergus McFadden (7), Rory O’Loughlin (7), Joe Tomane (7), James Lowe (7), Ross Byrne (8), Jamison Gibson-Park (8): Peter Dooley (7), Rónan Kelleher (9), Michael Bent (6), Devin Toner (7), Scott Fardy (8), Josh Murphy (7), Will Connors (8), Caelan Doris (8)
Munster confirm Zebo signing
This co-funded contract will see Munster’s all-time record try-scorer return from Racing 92 and line out for his home club where he made 144 appearances and scored 60 tries between 2010 and 2018.
In his third season with the Top 14 side, the 31-year-old has played 55 times and scored 21 tries to date.
Head Coach Johann van Graan said, “The opportunity to bring Simon back to Munster came about in early April following a final review of our squad’s budgetary position for season-end and with assistance from the IRFU to support what we believe is a really good deal for Munster and Irish Rugby.
“Simon’s desire to return to Ireland and play with his home club is illustrated by his willingness to sign at a level below his market value elsewhere. This has made bringing the province’s all-time leading try-scorer back home, possible.”
Simon Zebo said, “I am thrilled and honoured to be coming back home to play for Munster. My family and I have been so lucky to have enjoyed three incredible years with Racing 92 in Paris and I cannot thank the team there enough, I really have made friends for life and take with me some brilliant memories.
“However, as everyone knows, Munster holds a very special place in my heart and I’ve always said that I wanted to play for them and potentially Ireland again, so when this opportunity arose the lure of being close to home, family and friends and Munster fans, it outweighed all other options. I cannot wait to get back to the HPC with the team and hopefully a packed Thomond Park.”
Ulster Rugby agree to release Coetzee early
Marcell Coetzee has played his last game for Ulster Rugby.
With back-row, Marcell Coetzee, currently side-lined with a hamstring injury, Ulster Rugby has agreed terms which will see the player released from the club at the end of this month, ahead of his planned departure at the conclusion of the 2020/21 season.
Given the need for several weeks of rehabilitation following the injury sustained by Coetzee in last month’s Guinness PRO14 fixture against Leinster, Ulster Rugby and the player have reached a mutual agreement to part ways on Friday 30 April.
Head of Rugby Operations and Recruitment, Bryn Cunningham, said: “We have come to an agreement that will allow Marcell the time and space required to continue his rehab.
Lowry retained at 10 for Ulster v Zebre
21-year-old, Cormac Izuchukwu will make his first start for the Ulster men as he is named in the second row alongside Kieran Treadwell. Marty Moore comes back into the starting front row at tighthead, with Eric O’Sullivan and John Andrew retaining their starting berths at loosehead and hooker. Jordi Murphy will captain the side at openside flanker, with Sean Reidy and David McCann being retained at blindside and Number Eight.
A youthful back line sees Ethan McIlroy coming into the back three at full-back, with Rob Lyttle on the left wing and Robert Baloucoune returning on the right. Stewart Moore and James Hume will make up the midfield pairing, while John Cooney and Michael Lowry are named at half-back.
Brad Roberts, Callum Reid, Tom O’Toole, Alan O’Connor and Matty Rea are the forward reinforcements, with David Shanahan, Ian Madigan and Ben Moxham providing the back line options on the bench.
Ulster team to play Zebre Rugby, Guinness PRO14 Round 16, Friday 19 March at Kingspan Stadium (kick-off 8.15pm, live on Premier Sports / eir Sport):
(15-9) Ethan McIlroy, Robert Baloucoune, James Hume, Stewart Moore, Rob Lyttle, Michael Lowry, John Cooney;
(1-8) Eric O’Sullivan, John Andrew, Marty Moore, Cormac Izuchukwu, Kieran Treadwell, Sean Reidy, Jordy Murphy (Capt.), David McCann.
Replacements: Brad Roberts, Callum Reid, Tom O’Toole, Alan O’Connor, Matty Rea, David Shanahan, Ian Madigan, Ben Moxham.